Steam Controller Announced, Will Be Included With Valve’s Steam Machines

By Ishaan . September 27, 2013 . 11:01am

Following its SteamOS operating system and Steam Box hardware announcements, this morning, Valve revealed the third piece of their strategy intended to bring the Steam service into people’s living rooms—the Steam Controller.


The Steam Controller is a traditional wireless gamepad, but with a different design than what you’re used to seeing. Instead of analog sticks, the controller sports two trackpads, which are meant to serve the same purpose as a pair of sticks. The trackpads are clickable and Valve claim that they allow for “higher fidelity input” than what has been possible with traditional controllers.


“Whole genres of games that were previously only playable with a keyboard and mouse are now accessible from the sofa,” Valve say on the Steam website. “RTS games. Casual, cursor-driven games. Strategy games.” They add that first-person shooters designed with precise-aiming in mind will benefit from the trackpads, too.


In addition to the trackpads, the Steam Controller features a touch screen in the centre. Like the trackpads, the touch screen, too, is clickable, and sounds like it’s meant to emulate a mouse. You can browse available actions using the touch screen and then “click” on the option you want to select. Additionally, when a player touches the touch screen, its display is overlayed on the TV screen, allowing you to keep using it without having to look down at the controller.


Finally, we come to buttons. Valve say that each button on the Steam Controller has been placed “based on frequency of use”. There are a total of sixteen buttons on the controller, placed symmetrically, and allow players to toggle configurations for left and right-handedness. Above is a look at how the Steam Controller can be used in Portal 2. However, Valve say that games on Steam will allow the user to map their buttons as they please, similar to a mouse and keyboard.


The Steam Controller will be included with Valve’s Steam Machine, but you won’t need a Steam Machine to be able to use it—Valve say it will work with “any version of Steam”.

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  • Sardorim

    This at least has my attention for how strange it looks.

    Well, new things are always going to look strange compared to the old. I will reserve judgement til I’ve gotten my hands upon it and put it through the motions.

  • Xaltmas


    • I say! I assumed it was the back of the contraption! Why would they publish photographs of the back first, I queried myself, but it appears that simply the ingenieurs at this Steam corporation have made a reverse controller instead! Quite!

  • Shady Shariest

    Valve earns the “Yawn of The Year” for these “Grand” announcements of theirs -_-‘

  • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

    Guess only fighting games will need a separate controller

    • Astrotrain

      Fighting games will be the acid test for this controller.

    • Canceris

      I’m actually pretty curious if it will be viable at all in fighting games, there seems to be enough buttons for a 6 button fighter, but motions seems impossible.

    • 324234

      Don’t most fighting game enthusiasts swear by arcade sticks?

      • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

        They swear by D-Pads

        • Istillduno

          I think you may be getting arcade sticks mixed up with analogue sticks.

        • yomachaser

          Pretty much no one serious uses a gamepad for fighters.

          • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

            No, serious people use GameCube controllers

          • Sebastian Knauer

            >Fighting games

            You’re trippin’ balls.

          • TheBlackRabbit

            no…always fighting sticks sir….

          • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

            Smash Bros at Evo says FUCK THAT NOISE

          • TheBlackRabbit

            Sir….that was only………. …………………………….one……..Q~Q

  • Herok♞

    This could be interesting or confusing.

  • Tatsuya1221

    Now this leaves me scratching my head.

    It’s obvious this is intended to give kb/m functionality to those who don’t like kb/m and prefer controllers, but while i can see fps’s working great with this, i’m not so sure about games like say, a jrpg and a devil may cry game seems impossible to play on such a controller.

    I’m willing to give it a chance though, as i have a setup that makes kb/m tiring.

  • TheExile285

    Need to see some prices, Valve.

    • Shady Shariest

      This. If its at Xbox price point this will die…Long and slow death…

    • ShawnOtakuSomething


  • Sergio Briceño

    I’m kind of lost here… Where is the front of the controller?

    • neocatzon

      The side that looking at you with its huge eyes, big nose, and a creepy neutral smile.

  • Guest
  • 60hz


  • りんごタルト@エスカのアトリエ

    I really don’t get why Valve would go to these lengths. You can just plug your PC to your TV and voila! Steam! It’s not like it will offer much more diverse media than PS4 or Xbone. Next thing you know it, EA has their own Origin Box too.

    I dunno what Gaben has in mind but let’s see how this plays out.

    • Shady Shariest

      Gabe is just showing off to Microsoft, because Valve feels that the added presence of the “Microsoft Games” on the new Windows OS was a threat to them and other game dealers from Microsoft.

    • MB_cl

      Well the interface for one is aimed to be more consumer friendly, just like the PS3 UI. Basically, it´s Big Picture Mode without all the clicking to start it. I´m aware it´s possible to configure a PC to run Big Picture on startup, but I don´t think the average gamer would bother to read the manual.

      It won´t offer more diverse media than PS4 or XBone, but it does offer those in a more personalized way. When was the last time you see a console manufacturer say “If you don´t like our console, go ahead and build your own, you will still be able to play our platform´s games.”?

      Also, the prices steam offers are hardly beaten by the mainstream console industry. Though I do have my personal doubts regarding price elasticity in the gaming industry.

      Basically Steam is trying to mix the best of the PC and Console industry. Good or bad? Who knows. As you already said “let’s see how this plays out”.

  • Logan Moll

    Yeah, I don’t like the look of that at all.

  • Alien car speakers? That’s the first image I got when I saw the controller.

  • ddh819

    how does it connect? bluetooth?

    • According to some picture on the official website it does seem to have a USB connection.

  • DesmaX

    Well, if anyone wants to see the patent for the trackpads:

    Cool stuff. I like this controller

  • Tom_Phoenix

    ““Whole genres of games that were previously only playable with a keyboard and mouse…”

    …will continue to be only playable with a keyboard and mouse if that controller is any indication.

    • ronin4life

      I can see the track pads being sort of in between mouse and stick, but not close enough to mouse to be helpful.

      …and maybe not close enough to stick either…

  • Damarius Wingfield

    Jet Set Radio Controller!

  • laurenhiya21

    Hm… Not quite sure how this would work with games that rely heavily on a keyboard but I’ll wait and see how it goes I guess. Personally I’m way more interested to see how the OS works.

  • Chaos_Knight

    What is this? I don’t even..

  • fenix7

    Looks interestingly different haha. Wonder how Fighting and action games will work on these…

  • Odin

    Only time I’m going to say this, but I think they’ve outdone Nintendo in the weird controller department.

    In the Gamecube and Wii sandwich, this would be the filling.

    • ShawnOtakuSomething

      have you forgotten the 64 and Xbox controllers? XD

      • ronin4life

        Man, that xbox controller…

        I never got the complaints. I was a puny, tiny kid with equally small hands and I had no issue… at all.

        Kind of miss it, actually…

        • ShawnOtakuSomething

          it is the grandma son of Dreamcast pad

  • Looks uncomfortable to play with. Need to try one when this comes out.

    • TheBlackRabbit

      depends on the price for me….

  • FlyingPony

    I am concern about the track-pad instead of regular analog stick. I have many bad experience with touch based control.

  • ShawnOtakuSomething

    It wins for being the WTF how do even use that? controller since the Jaguar controller

    • ninjabart122

      I thought they explained it pretty well with that diagram and a couple of explanations. It’s mostly trackpad based.

    • Is that a telephone?

  • epy

    Hmmm… I want to give it a try.

  • Demeanor

    Wow… I’m like, really impressed. Aside from the fact that the controller looks like a steam-powered robot head looking straight at you (there’s even a mouth! XD), the two “craters” for analog control, if they work correctly, could really blend together all the positives of directional keys and an analog stick: think about fighting games, some are more geared towards keys (Tekken and its ff+(1+2) for example, ff with a stick is impossiburu) while others are geared towards sticks (41236 movements like in SFIV or AH3), if this thing supports both sliding (stick) and tapping (key) it could work wonders! A lot of buttons and full configurability, slick black look, mouse-like support like the dualshock4, the only thing I’m doubtful of might be ergonomics.
    I’m mainly a Sony console and handheld gamer, with a little bit of PC on the side (mainly for retro stuff), and I think time is scarce enough as it is to even consider a secondary console, BUT this mix of PC and console advantages they’re bringing to the table is very interesting indeed, I’ll definitely keep an eye on this. I have wild fantasies like this+VR gear+Star Citizen… XD
    EDIT: wow, everyone seems to have strong doubts about this XD maybe I’m just optimistic by nature XD

  • ChiffonCake

    This looks like it might have potential… but it could also be a disaster. Still, I’m willing to be (cautiously) optimistic.

  • ToshiChan

    But when my friend loses how will I tell him to pick up those sticks

  • Suicunesol

    I’m sorry, I’m really having trouble trying to figure out how those track pads work. They’re clickable, so they’re like buttons. But are they like computer touch pads in that to keep moving forward, you keep your finger sliding forward? Or do you hold “up” to move forward? Do they sense pressure? There are like no traditional buttons on this thing.

  • Dagobert

    Looks nice, but is it comfortable? Doesn’t look like it.

  • xXDGFXx

    Well, at least they know that symmetry is best. On the other hand, those button placements are really… odd.

  • Göran Isacson

    Well. I am thoroughly confused.

    Mostly because I don’t play that many games that make much use of the analog sticks, I’m mostly all about them face buttons. As such I’m trying to imagine how this will work for those games and drawing blanks, but I will be interested to see how it ends up. Might even try out the controller once it lands, if only to figure out how a dual trackpad controller feels (for I don’t think I’ve ever actually USED a trackpad before…)

  • SirRichard

    It just strikes me as being different for the sake of it. What problem does this controller solve? None, really, its trackpads won’t have the speed and accuracy of a mouse and its buttons won’t hold up to the flexibility and macros of a keyboard. At the same time, rubbing your thumb along a surface doesn’t give the same feedback as pushing a stick; imagine playing, say, Metal Gear Rising and doing a parry. When you push the stick to perform it, it’s a quick flick with a button press, but the stick only goes to the edge of its little groove.

    When it gets there and stops, you feel it, and you know you performed what you wanted to do. The trackpad doesn’t have that, it’s a lot more vague. Sliding your thumb along a surface is more floaty than a stick, too. The placement of the front buttons are just poor, even if they aren’t that crucial, forcing you to stretch your thumb across the whole pad or move your whole hand to hit them.

    No D-pad makes platformers, fighters, and beat ’em ups more awkward to play than necessary, the placement of other buttons on the back away from your thumbs makes fast-paced action games considerably more awkward to play, and as stated it won’t hold up to a keyboard and mouse for shooters and strategy. It’s trying to do everything at once and ends up being useless for all of them.

    • yomachaser

      You haven’t used it but developers who have say the exact opposite of what you’re saying.

    • TheBlackRabbit

      actually the people who used it said otherwise!

  • CirnoLakes

    It’s just the announcement we expected.

    Also, it looks super different. I’m thinking possibly too different.

    I don’t like the look of it. And I feel like it will be very hard to get used. I’m certainly curious to try one out, though.

  • LustEnvy

    O_O is all I see…

    • CirnoLakes

      It also kind of looks like a boom box.

    • DCBlackbird

      I see something far far far more horrifying

    • Blobghetti

      LOL! After that comment, that’s all I see now too. I can’t unsee it!

  • mixedfish

    More clutter for the gutter.

  • DCBlackbird

    I notice the key points to the center black square and points out four different buttons….. how? Is it a touch pad?

  • karasuKumo

    Wonder how Dota 2 will play on this, I can only assume awkwardly.

  • Aristides

    So yeah, can you plug the controller to a smartphone and use it as a boom box? =D lol

  • KaiYamato

    I want to know if they connect to computers.

  • artemisthemp

    I don’t like the Controller, but that is most likely because it’s so different.
    I may change my mind after playing with it.

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